The San Diego Wave came into Saturday’s match against New York/New Jersey Gotham FC winless through nine matches across all competitions but finally ended the streak with a 2-1 win at Snapdragon Stadium. It was their first win in 11 weeks and first in San Diego since May 20.
Head Coach Casey Stoney said after the match her overriding emotion was relief after finally breaking their winless streak.
“We haven’t had a lot of luck in the last seven or eight games. Tonight I think we had a load of luck at times, but we put a shift in,” Stoney said. If we keep the ball better, we probably have to do less work. I thought it was too many double-turnovers. We can be better in possession, but ultimately sometimes, you cannot.
“Not our best performance, but to be honest, I don’t care. We won, and it was a massive three-point to stop the run we were on.”
The match also marked the return of the USWNT star Alex Morgan, and her presence drew attention of other defenders allowing other Wave players to shine.
The first goal came during a Wave throw in the 17th minute. The play got started by a Wave throw-in that went past Alex Morgan to 18-year-old forward Jaedyn Shaw. Shaw ran the ball down and, from just outside the box, managed to cross the ball to the center of the box for Makenzy Doniak. Doniak made a hard shot to her opposite direction giving the Wave the 1-0 lead and her third goal of the season.
Coincidentally the last Wave win came against Gotham FC in New York and featured a goal by Doniak and an assist by Shaw.
“Jaedyn (Shaw) is such an amazing player. I love playing with her. She has such a great final pass; she’s so good on the ball. I just have that confidence in her, so when she’s in and around the box, I’m getting around the goal because I know she’s either going to hit it on frame or find my feet or my head or anything,” Doniak said.
The Wave midfield kept Gotham without a shot on goal the rest of the first half but were much weaker in the second half ceding possession and giving many chances to the visiting side.
It was not until the 86th minute for either team to get on the board. That came with a goal by Amirah Ali, who had just come on as a substitute for the Wave. Melanie Barcenas started the chance as she took advantage of a discombobulated Gotham FC, who had just made their final substitutions in the 84th minute. Barcenas got a ball that she passed through toward a rushing Amirah Ali, who had just come onto the match. Ali only touched the ball three times, bringing the goalkeeper off her line and sending the ball in easily to take the 2-0 lead.
Stoney said of Barcenas that she is alongside the England Women’s National Team star Lauren James as one of the best young players she has coached. Barcenas, at 15 years old and nine months, became the youngest player to get an assist in NWSL history.
Not too long after, during stoppage time, Gotham responded, making the extra insurance critical as they managed to score a great goal in the 12th added minute because of an injury to the Gotham goalkeeper Abby Smith who had to be carted off the field. Gotham had already made their allotted substitutions and were forced to field ten players and put a field player in goal, but they still managed to keep pressure on the opposing side.
Ifeoma Onumonu, while falling, kicked the ball up and toward Katie Stengel, who took one touch then sent a bullet into the net that Shae Yanez couldn’t reach, making it 2-1.
The Wave held on for an extra minute to win and finally break the streak. However, starting a winning one may be tricky as the Wave go on the road to face the Orlando Pride, a team that seemingly has their number on August 25.
Abraham Zepeda is a bilingual Chula Vista Native covering the Tijuana Xolos for EVT. He spent the summer of 2022 covering San Diego Loyal SC and San Diego Wave FC. He is also currently a student at the University of Oregon pursuing a degree in journalism.